THE next time you feel a wave of panic, try the 54321 mindfulness hack, backed by psychologists.
Around one in six Brits suffer with anxiety, which can become so severe it gets in the way of daily life, sleep and relationships.
Many more also suffer from panic disorder, which is when you have a sudden sense of fear for no apparent reason, leading to a panic attack in some cases.
Both disorders have treatment and you should see your GP if you have symptoms.
But there are a number of strategies that can help relieve overwhelming feelings of anxiety within minutes.
The 54321 mindfulness trick brings a person back to the present moment and helps ground them.
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It can also help people who are just feeling a bit on edge or stressed, and have racing thoughts distracting them from sleep or work.
A number of psychologists recommend it because it's so easy to do any time, and anywhere – you don't have to be sitting quietly in your bedroom.
The Mayo Clinic – a prestigious nonprofit medical center in the US – describes the technique, suggesting to use it “the next time your mind is stuck on the worry setting”.
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Sit quietly. Look around you and notice
- FIVE things you can see: Your hands, the sky, a plant on your colleague’s desk
- FOUR things you can physically feel: Your feet on the ground, a ball, your friend’s hand
- THREE things you can hear: The wind blowing, children’s laughter, your breath
- TWO things you can smell: Fresh-cut grass, coffee, soap
- ONE thing you can taste: A mint, gum, the fresh air
It may be difficult to pinpoint so many objects, especially if it's so quiet you cannot hear anything, or there is nothing to taste.
But that’s the purpose of the task – to hold your attention and force you to concentrate on your senses in that moment.
Even if you simply taste your tongue, or listen to the whirring of the central heating, you're doing it right.
It’s based on the practice of mindfulness.
The Mayo Clinic says: “Mindfulness is the act of being intensely aware of what you're sensing and feeling at every moment — without interpretation or judgement.
“Spending too much time planning, problem solving, daydreaming, or thinking negative or random thoughts can be draining. It also can make you more likely to experience stress, anxiety and symptoms of depression.
“Practising mindfulness exercises, on the other hand, can help you direct your attention away from this kind of thinking and engage with the world around you.
“Aim to practice mindfulness every day for about six months. Over time, you might find that mindfulness becomes effortless. Think of it as a commitment to reconnecting with and nurturing yourself.”
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